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charter schools

New York state budget deal would enable 14 additional charter schools to open in New York City

April 28, 2023
The agreement would clear the way for operators to open 14 so-called "zombie charter schools" — schools that have closed or were never opened.

After a four-year halt on new charter schools in New York City, state lawmakers have reached a deal to open 14 additional schools.

Chalkbeat New York reports that the deal would clear the way for charter school operators to open 14 so-called "zombie charters" — schools that had been granted charters but have closed or were never opened. Additionally, the state would cover rent for these schools, relieving New York City of the cost.

The deal is not yet law, but it is expected to be part of the state’s final budget approval.

The state education department and the SUNY Charter Schools Institute have the authority to award charters to prospective operators in New York.

In 2019, SUNY approved charters for six schools, but they couldn’t open because the city had reached a state-imposed cap on charter schools. If the deal goes through, SUNY would open a new request for proposals for newly available charters. Those six already approved schools would have to submit updated proposals, they would be first in line for consideration, officials say.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s push for more charter schools in New York City emerged as one of the last items holding up the state budget. Hochul’s original proposal could have allowed more than 100 charter schools to open in New York City,  but it drew immediate backlash from Democratic lawmakers, unions, and advocates.

Hochul has argued that she wants more school choice for parents, particularly those who are on wait lists for charters.

State Sen. John Liu, chair of the legislature's New York City education committee, says he agreed to the deal because the 14 zombie charters in question all exist in New York City, and it would not involve lifting the charter cap. 

“The firm agreement is no increase or no elimination of the New York City cap, which is clearly the right policy going forward because you have to strike the balance between the desire for some charter choice and the need for the city to keep public schools open,” Liu said. 

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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